By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Monday, March 3 meeting of the Cherokee Central Schools (CCS) Board of Education was called to order at 4:45 p.m. with Chairperson Jennifer Thompson; Secretary Tara Reed-Cooper; Board members Gloria Griffin, Karen French-Browning, and Regina Ledford Rosario; School Board Assistant Sunnie Clapsaddle; HR Director Heather Driver; Superintendent Dr. Michael Murray; Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne; and Tribal Council representative Chelsea Saunooke present. Vice-Chair Isaac Long was late to the meeting.
The minutes from their Tuesday, February 18 meeting were approved along with the amended agenda for the day.
The first guests to the meetings were the CCS Beta Club, who came to speak on their recent trip to the North Carolina Beta Club Convention in Greensboro. Each student who went on the trip talked about what they learned and what they enjoyed most about the trip. In January, the School Board donated $500 to the Beta Club to help fund the outing.
Next to visit the Board was the Close-Up group, which is the group of students that went to Hawaii last month. Similar to the first guests, each student spoke on their experiences and thoughts on the trip.
Laura Pinnix, the CCS cultural director, was also a guest on Monday. She was there to propose a new scholarship for graduating seniors going to college. It would be an annual scholarship worth $500 and would be for personal use, not tuition or academic funding. Pinnix said that the student selected would be one who studied the Cherokee language and would offer both an incentive and assistance to the student.
There were no objections to the idea, but the Board said they would begin reviewing the concept. They said they would need solidified guidelines, to look at the legalities, and find the best form of funding.
The Board was supposed to meet with Athletic Director Sean Ross regarding an update on the renewed Athletic Recognition Committee. However, he was unable to attend the meeting. Instead, he had provided his presentation to the Board, outlining changes he was recommending to the committee.
The School Board then went into a closed session with Libby Ensley and Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley. These guests were not on the provided agenda, and the closed session lasted for well over an hour. It was stated that the meeting was to discuss personnel issues, and the Board offered no report from the closed session.
Due to time constraints, the Cherokee One Feather was unable to stay for the remainder of the meeting. The meeting went into closed at 5:16 p.m. and was still closed at the time of departure around 6:30 p.m. The rest of the report is based on an audio recording provided by the CCS Board of Education.
Once the session was reopened, the Board moved to the consent agenda. The only question came from French-Browning who asked if anybody knew who was the selected individual for the position of Varsity Baseball Pitch Count Coach. They discussed that he was listed as non-enrolled and wondered who the previous person was in that position. French-Browning wanted more clarification and decided to pull the resolution from the consent agenda. The person in question was selected as the best candidate by Athletic Director Sean Ross.
With no other questions, the Board moved to pass the Consent Agenda as amended, approving the following resolutions:
- 20-139 – Henrietta Armachain approved as a Volunteer Chaperone for the Galapagos trip in June with the Travel Club.
- 20-140 – Corbin Wright approved as the Middle School Assistant Baseball coach for the 2020 season.
- 20-142 – Timothy Swayney approved as a Substitute Teacher for Cherokee Elementary School (CES).
- 20-143 – Audrey Rogers approved as a Substitute Nurse for CES.
- 20-144 – Lori Davis approved for a transfer to an Elementary Teacher Assistant position for CES.
- 20-145 – Keterri Cagle-Bradley approved as an Accounts Payable Processor position for CCS.
The Board then approved the newly edited job description for the Varsity Volleyball Head Coach. The edit added that an individual would need 2-3 years of successful experience at the Varsity level.
The last thing in ‘unfinished business’ was approving the 2020-2021 CCS Calendar. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beverly Payne said that there were additions to this upcoming academic year.
“There is one difference in this calendar as opposed to our previous calendars, and that is that we put in a few late-start days so that our staff can get together and do vertical PLC meetings,” said Payne.
The Board then approved a sabbatical request by a CCS employee who is due to have a child this summer. They requested to have 12-months of sabbatical leave to spend as much time with their child before returning their position at the school.
There was one walk-in resolution presented by HR Director Heather Driver. Resolution 20-146 would approve Jimmy Ray Long as a full-time custodian at CCS, and it was approved by the Board.
The last subject discussed before adjourning was the current approach to the novel coronavirus. With the meeting being on Monday, plenty has changed since then. However, Yona Wade represented CCS at the tribal meeting that afternoon to maintain communication with the tribal programs and their approach to preparing for the virus. Wade said that they would be providing information and protocol with their packets this Thursday.
Superintendent Murray said that they will be taking the situation seriously and will do what they can to share more information directly and via social media. He said that right, they will continue with caution, but no drastic measures have been taken yet. Murray said they would keep an eye on the situation and assess future school trips and other functions as time progresses.
The next meeting of the CCS Board of Education will take place Tuesday, March 10 at Swain County High School. It is the annual joint meeting with the Swain County Board of Education.